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Geoduck from Canada is one of the most unique seafood delicacies in the world harvested from the cool, pristine waters of Canada’s Pacific coast.

Blessed with a bounty of this natural treasure, British Columbia has become the world’s leading supplier of the best quality geoducks. Individually harvested by divers and handled with great pride and care, geoducks are one of British Columbia’s most valuable shellfish harvests. Accordingly, Geoduck from Canada has earned an international reputation as the true geoduck of great taste, fresh flavour and premium quality.

Geoduck from Canada, Panopea generosa, is a bivalve mollusk. This species of clam can bury itself more than one metre deep in the gravel or sand of the ocean floor. It is the largest burrowing clam in the world and one of the longest lived, often living over 100 years, with the oldest geoduck recorded in Canada at 168 years old. The age of the clams can be estimated by the growth rings or annuli on the shell, similar to the rings of a tree trunk. It can grow to over 4 ½ kg (10 lbs), however a commercially harvested geoduck is on average about 1 kg (2.2 lbs) in weight. The average shell length is 195 mm (7 ¾ inches). Geoduck from Canada is also known as “Elephant Trunk Clam” in Chinese for its long, meaty siphon and more recently as “King Clam” in North American markets for its large size and prestigious reputation.

While approximately 90% of the 1,400 metric tonnes (3.08 million lbs) of Canadian geoduck harvested every year is shipped to China and Hong Kong, it is now also being discovered and enjoyed by seafood lovers all around the world.

The Taste

Canadian geoduck is prized for its remarkable sweet, sea-fresh flavour and crunchy texture that sets it apart from geoduck harvested in other regions around the world. It is therefore most often enjoyed in its pure natural form or just quickly sautéed, stir-fried or cooked in a traditional hot-pot.

Why Do They All Look Different?

Canadian geoducks are formed by nature and grow in the wild. As a result, the overall size, colour and other conditions of their shell and siphon will vary according to their growing environment.

As examples:

  • a geoduck’s shell could have imperfections if it has grown in a rocky substrate; and,
  • a geoduck’s siphon and/or shell could feature a darker colour overall or some staining when it grows in hard packed sediment that allows less oxygen through.

Other factors that influence the size and appearance of a geoduck include:

  • location of the geoduck bed (commercial geoduck fishing location)
  • depth of burial in the ocean floor
  • depth of the water
  • age
  • genetics
  • effects of predators

Click here to view an example of how different geoducks can look.

PRODUCT FORMS

Geoducks are most popular and cherished as live product. On occasion, the siphon meat is available flash-frozen and then vacuum-packed. Other ready-to-eat packaged products are also being explored to provide added convenience. Because the fishery in Canada is conducted throughout the year, product is conveniently available for all markets year round.

GEODUCK AND HORSE CLAM SPECIES

There is one species of geoduck in British Columbia, Panopea generosa, and two species of horse clams - the pacific gaper, Tresus nuttallii, and - the fat gaper, T. capax. Divers identify these three species underwater by their shows (the tip of a siphon or dimple in the sand made by the tip of a siphon).

The Pacific geoduck clam supports the most valuable dive fishery on the west coast of North America. Panopea generosa is harvested in British Columbia, Washington, Alaska and Mexico. Culture of P. generosa is also expanding.

A second species of geoduck, Panopea globosa is harvested in Mexico.

There are other Panopea fisheries located in New Zealand (P. zelandica and P. smithae) and Argentina (P. abbreviate). We have also seen P. japonica at markets in China sourced from Korea. These four species of Panopea produce just a small fraction of the landings of the North American geoducks, and they are smaller, averaging less than half the size of P. generosa, and are darker in colour.

The difference in species, size of clams, ocean conditions and the varying water temperatures in these regions of origin, influence the appearance, taste and texture of each species.

For example, a test kitchen study performed by the Underwater Harvesters Association comparing geoducks that dwell in cold water – Panopea generosa from Canada – (water temperatures averaging 6° C to 10° C (43° F to 50° F)) to gaper clams that dwell in warm water and are often called “water geoduck” – Panopea globosa – (water temperatures averaging 17° C to 20° C (62.6° F to 68° F)) yielded many variances in appearance, taste and texture.

Click here to view the study’s resulting profile comparison between the Panopea generosa and Panopea globosa species.

SPECIES & REGION

Panopea generosa - British Columbia, Canada / Washington, USA / Alaska, USA / Mexico, Pacific side of the Baja


Panopea globosa - Mexico, both on the Gulf and Pacific sides of the Baja, often called “water geoduck”


Panopea zelandica & Panopea smithae - New Zealand


Panopea abbreviata - Argentina


Panopea japonica - Korea, China, Japan

Lifecycle

Geoducks are broadcast spawners with separate sexes. When males spawn, the females then release between 7 to 10 million eggs which are fertilized externally. Within 48 hours, shelled larvae begin swimming and weeks later they drop to the ocean floor where they start digging themselves into the ocean floor with a tiny foot that has developed on the bottom of their bodies.

Once an adult, geoducks lose the ability to dig and their shells remain sedentary deep in the sand with only its neck or siphon extending to feed on microscopic creatures or retracting to protect themselves from predators.

geoduck lifecycle

NUTRITION

Geoduck from Canada is as nutritious as it is delicious! Geoduck clam meat is packed full of essential nutrients required for optimal health. As an excellent source of protein with less fat and cholesterol found in other protein choices, it is also a rich source of iron.

Per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of raw edible portion

Calories (cal) 80.0
Total Fat (g) 0.5
Saturated Fat (g) 0.2
Protein (g) 17.0
Cholesterol (mg) 30.0
Iron (mg) 44.0
Sodium (mg) 300.0
Calcium (mg) 78.0

BUYING & STORING

Like clams, oysters and other bivalves, Geoduck from Canada is most popular and cherished live so here are some tips for buying and storing live geoduck.

Buying Geoduck

When buying live geoduck, quality Geoduck from Canada is easy to recognize. Just refer to the tips below. It is also important to note that while many consumers will prefer a light beige coloured siphon, the taste and texture of the meat inside is quite similar regardless of colour.

  • siphon looks fresh and plump
  • siphon feels firm and dense
  • siphon has minimal markings or blemishes
  • siphon flexes or retracts when poked
  • aroma is sea-fresh and clean

Storing Geoduck

To store live geoduck conveniently, wrap the clam in a damp cloth and place it in the coldest part of a refrigerator. Ideally, to maintain optimal quality and freshness, store live geoduck in a chilled tank with purified salt water and good water circulation maintained as close as possible to the temperature and salinity level at which they normally live.

  • 6° C to 10° C (45° F to 50° F)
  • 32 ppm salinity

"MARKET APPROVED" GEODUCK FROM CANADA

The Underwater Harvesters Association (UHA) is committed to ensure buyers of Canadian geoduck are purchasing a product that is safe to eat and meets the UHA’s high standards of quality. The UHA follows stringent guidelines and procedures, working with Canadian federal fisheries, Environment Canada and the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency. Extensive water quality and bio-toxin testing is also undertaken prior to any harvesting by the UHA. Plus, every geoduck that is harvested is recorded, weighed and tracked through industry funded comprehensive validation and traceability requirements to ensure that only “Market Approved’ product has been sent to the marketplace.

In fact, Geoduck from Canada can be traced back from the consumer right to the exact time and location of harvest.

For more information about “Market Approved” Geoduck from Canada click here.

PREPARATION TIPS

Because of its remarkable quality, Geoduck from Canada is most often served raw in its natural form as sushi or sashimi to showcase its highly desirable true flavours and texture. The flavour of Canadian geoduck is also considered extraordinary when cooked so other favourite preparation methods include quickly sautéed, stir-fried or cooked in a traditional hot pot.

Today, chefs from all around the world are embracing the wonderful versatility of Geoduck from Canada and developing exciting new creations featuring both raw and cooked meat. For example, Chinese chefs are increasingly featuring Canadian geoduck on the menus of Chinese banquets, Japanese chefs are serving geoducks in multi-course Kaiseki-style dinners, and many western chefs are incorporating geoducks into their “chef’s creations” tasting menus.

Follow these tips from UHA Chef/Consultant and geoduck expert, Stephen Wong, to ensure tasty geoduck creations every time:

Tip 1:

The most important thing to remember about cooking geoduck is not to overcook the product. For example, adding geoduck to a stir-fry at the end of the cooking process at a lower heat setting will keep the geoduck tender and retain its highly desirable sweet flavour.

Tip 2:

For sashimi-hot pot presentations, briefly rinse the geoduck slices in lightly salted ice water before draining well and arranging on a serving platter. This will enhance the clean sea-sweet taste and the appearance of the geoduck.

Tip 3:

Consider using the two main edible parts of a geoduck in different preparations. The siphon has a sweet and mild flavour, and crunchy texture, but can toughen easily. Therefore it’s best served raw (sashimi or sushi) and in quick cook preparations such as stir-frys. The body meat is richer in flavour and softer in texture and yields best results when grilled, pan-seared or included in soups like a chowder.

To prepare Geoduck from Canada for serving, simply follow these step-by-step instructions.

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Preparing Geoduck from Canada

Insert a small, sharp paring knife in between the shell and the body of the geoduck around the base of the siphon.

Cut along the edge of the shell to separate the shell from the body. Be sure to sever the adductor muscles at the top and bottom of the shell.

Trim off and discard the dark, egg-sized oval stomach or “gut ball”.

To remove the outer skin covering the siphon and body meat, dip the clam briefly in hot water until the skin begins to bubble and loosen. The water should be just too hot to the touch.

Peel the skin off like a cylindrical sheath to expose the edible, smooth creamy siphon meat underneath.

Rinse and scrub off any brown pigment and loose skin that may cling to the meat.

Cut the siphon off from the body meat.

Split the siphon in half lengthwise across the two apertures showing in the thicker end. Trim and discard the spongy parts of the body meat.

For most preparations, the geoduck siphon is at its best – tender yet crunchy – when cut into thin slices on a sharp bias.